Thursday, June 11, 2009

the wavy chop

no, it's not a new hairdo ... it's the ocean conditions i swam in yesterday!

as you know, i've been in the ocean more this season. i've been going to a weekly weds. morning "speed circuit" where we swim about 250 meters out to a buoy, come back in, run up the beach a ways, round an orange cone, down the beach about 50 meters, round another cone and back into the water. run, swim, rinse, repeat.

it's been a blast!

on the drive down there each week i don't let myself think about what i am on my way to do. i just drive: "doot, da, doot, da, doot ... here i am in my car at 5:45am ... driving along ... doot, da, doot, da, doot" and just like that i'm in the parking lot, lubing up with body glide, wrestling myself into the kielbasa casing known as my wetsuit and splashing around with 100+ of my closest neoprene-clad friends.

the other week i did a record (for me) 4 loops. SO PROUD!!

yesterday i had an unexplained sinking feeling in my stomach as i doot-da-dooted my way toward the beach. uneasy. queasy.

got to beach and just kept taking one sketchy footstep after the other.

i got into the water and, as beth would say, HOLY CATS!! sure, it looked dark and ominous from up on the sand, but it didn't look ... uh ... quite so wavy or choppy. damn, it's wavy choppy!!!

immediately i lost my breath. it was a little colder than it's been recently. it was rough. i was anxious. all put together = cat can't really breathe so good.

j. was a sweetheart as we both had flashbacks to my untold ocean freak outs where i insisted: "I CAN'T DO THIS!!! DON'T LEAVE ME BY MYSELF!!! WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?!?! I'M GETTING OUT. WAIT, I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT ALONE!?!? HEEEELP!!!"

as usual he said, "try one loop". i decided to try. i stopped every couple of breaths making sure there was no confusion on his part that "i'm not sure i can do this". i didn't want my fear to win, i didn't want to have to navigate getting out alone, i didn't want j. to not get his workout done, i didn't want to get the idea stuck in my head that the ocean was scary and that i take a powder and go for breakfast when it gets rough (which i do, but i wasn't in the mood to prove it to myself).

so i did the loop. it was a rough go, but the extreme freak out i felt at first subsided. until, of course, we had to head in and what were probably mid-sized waves looked to me like building-collapsing tidal waves. i knew it was bad when i screamed to j. that i just wanted the other people swimming near me to get the hell away from me!! what? how will that help? no idea. i was irrational.

okay, i'm writing this so obviously i got back to shore. whew!

j. headed out for another loop and i sat on the sand, totally relieved to be done and totally bummed that i wasn't going back out. i watched people run up the beach and excitedly run back out. our friend josh ran up and looked at me "all done?" he asked. i'm not sure what i replied, but it was something of the "you betcha" variety.

j. came back out and next thing i knew i was at his side saying i wanted to go back out. it didn't look so bad. he looked at me, looked at the ocean and said "yeah? okay ... sure, it doesn't look that bad from here ..."

guess what, it was worse than the first time around! well, the conditions were but i wasn't. i was up and over a big wave, swimming in mid-air. that part was actually kind of fun. the buoy ... well, i couldn't really see it but there were still enough people out there that i was able to keep my bearings.

on the exit i got slightly pummeled, but nothing too bad.

i was as proud of doing that second loop yesterday as i was of having done 4 last week. sure i got a total of something like 17 minutes of swimming in (and that includes a lot of wading, stopping, diving, orienting), BUT i got a ton of confidence and character building in that 17 minutes.

j. went out for yet another loop (stud). i was a wee bit nervous as he and his two friends headed out in the complete opposite direction of the buoy, but they soon realized the conditions had taken them off course and righted themselves.

after the swim i declared we were going for blueberry pancakes. heavenly, hearty, gluten-filled pancakes. that swim was a triumph worthy of my favorite breakfast. shoot, had baskin & robbins been open i might have even gotten myself a scoop of mint chocolate chip on my way to work.

here's to the wavy chop not gettin' you down!



ADC said...

I hate cold choppy water. Who doesn't right?? You did so well out there, yay/

Beth said...

Holy cats is right!! That sounds scary bad. But man - you beat down that fear!! And that's winning the battle!! YAY CAT!!

Mama Simmons said...

Hey great job braving those conditions!! I used to hate hate hate choppy ocean water and trying to get through surf and all that... my friends would make fun of me and tell me to go back to the pool... which pissed me off. I swear though, the more you do that in the chop the more you end up really liking it! So keep up the good work and eventually it'll be YOU doing all those extra laps and encouraging someone else who is sitting on the beach that they should try once more. ;)

Pedergraham said...

Good for you for getting in there and getting that second lap done. I am working with a super disciplined athlete right now who is getting freaked out in open water and I think the solution for him and for all of us with things that really "knock us off our equlibrium" is to give ourselves permission to be scared. Then once we allow ourselves that space, we can then move forward---to a second loop and BLUEBERRY PANCAKES!

Jerry said...

Neat story! Getting right back on the horse is really, really helpful. I like Pedergraham's comment: "give ourselves permission to be scared."